Becoming an independent consultant In 2022 – Best practices
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The need for specialized skills, experience, and expertise to drive business growth and accelerate corporate performance in 2022 is higher than ever. Many brands are actively engaging independent consultants to address essential business concerns. According to ZipRecruiter, many consultancy roles are in increasing demand. For instance, market research consulting is projected to grow at 25% in the coming years.
In response to the high demand, more professionals are tilting towards consultancy. A report says 48% of adults in the US have worked or are currently working as independent professionals. This figure is expected to hit 54% by 2025.
If you are thinking of how to become an independent consultant or how to become an independent contractor, you’re at the right place. This Workee article will share tips on how to become a successful self-employed consultant.
Who is an independent consultant
An independent consultant is a professional who offers specialized advice, guidance, and actionable expertise to an organization, business, or person. Independent consultants are typically self-employed and mostly work for a company based on contractual terms for a fixed period. Consultants are usually experts with great experience in their field of practice. It is not enough to have the basic knowledge. Before being called a consultant in some industries, you may need to acquire specialist credentials and certifications or a post-graduate degree.
A consultant's expertise and extensive experience are crucial since they serve as authorities and guide businesses through critical decision-making processes. The specific duties of independent consultants are dependent on the industry.
Duties of an independent consultant
Independent consultants advise and offer insight to a client based on their extensive industry experience and expertise. But the specific responsibilities of a consultant can differ based on their field of expertise and industry.
Here are some of the most basic responsibilities applicable to all independent consultants:
Identifies problems and challenges: One of a consultant's main responsibilities is to identify problems and obstacles and explain how they affect the business. They should also be able to determine the source of the issue.
Proffers solutions: Consultants do not only identify problems; they also proffer solutions and give advice that can help eliminate the problems.
Provides expansion insight: when a business wants to expand or scale, they often engage a consultant to provide relevant insight and information to help the business grow with less difficulty.
Helps to design and execute new processes: since consultants are experts, they help create or introduce new work processes and onboard these processes to enhance efficiency.
Collects and reports critical data and statistics: they do this by organizing surveys and experiments and analyzing important metrics and how they affect a business.
Makes recommendations: Consultants make important recommendations after analyzing problems, data, and other business KPIs.
Oversees and supervises processes: they sometimes take on supervisory roles to ensure that things are done rightly and reduce errors and mistakes.
People often ask, “how can I become a consultant?” or how do “I become an independent contractor?’
To begin with, the positions of independent consultancy and independent contractors are essentially the same and are sometimes used interchangeably. However, there are slight variations in their duties, and we will get to that. Before then, you should know that you can function in both capacities easily if you are already qualified for one. For instance, an IT contractor can easily double as an IT consultant.
So what makes both roles different?
A consultant’s duty is to assess the needs of a business or client and offer professional advice and guidance on what should be done. On the other hand, the contractor’s role is to assess the business needs and accomplish the tasks accordingly.
In summary, a contractor actively performs tasks, while a consultant provides professional advice and support.
How to become an independent consultant
So you want to know how to become self-employed? Do you want to know how to become an independent contractor? Here are some essential tips you should know.
Determine your area of expertise
The first step in becoming an independent consultant is by identifying a niche- not niche, just any niche, but your area of expertise. You have to do a thorough self-assessment to ensure that you have the required knowledge, experience, and skills to deliver optimally as a consultant in your chosen field.
If you're not sure of what skills you'll need, do some research to see what's needed in your niche and industry.
Further your education
Being self-employed as an independent consultant demands that you keep up-to-date with new trends, advances, changes, and innovations as often as necessary, especially if you work in a fast-paced sector like I.T. Staying current ensures that you have a workable solution for your clients at all times.
Attend seminars, workshops, refresher courses, and obtain certifications that will help broaden your knowledge and add to your experience. Businesses trust your judgment and opinions; you should ensure that you always give them the best and most relevant insights.
Acquire useful experience
Most clients will want to evaluate you as an independent contractor based on your previous work experience. Take advantage of all opportunities that may allow you to gain valuable experience. Volunteering with various organizations, NGOs, etc., taking on leadership positions, or joining a group that focuses on your career are all options.
Determine your consulting rates
The first thing to remember is that all consultants are not paid equally. The fees you charge for your consulting services are crucial. You don't want to undercharge because you'll lose motivation, but you also don't want to charge too much since you'll scare off potential customers. As a result, you must get your service charge right.
As a newbie, you may want to seek advice from other consultants in your niche or conduct internet research to learn about standard prices for your expertise and experience level.
It's important to note that charges vary by industry and expertise level. You may want to charge per hour or based on every project you undertake.
Focus on getting clients
The next thing in your journey to becoming a successful independent consultant is to attract clients and businesses that will need your services. You need to put yourself out there and highlight your capabilities. You can do this by joining industry organizations, networking sites, and social media, and you should also have a personal website.
A personal website enables you to present your capabilities and competencies in one place without any side distractions. A good website can help establish your credibility and proficiency, which will help potential clients build trust. You can include your experiences, past jobs, qualifications, achievements, and previous clients on your website.
Having a business website is not difficult and doesn’t need to take so much time, especially with platforms like Workee. Workee is a platform that helps professionals and independent consultants manage their business without hassle. The platform creates a unique website for you in under five minutes, and you can immediately launch your business digitally.
With the Workee website, you can have a unique URL and design the website to your taste without the help of any technical expertise.
Beyond providing you with a user-friendly website, Workee also provides important resources and tools that help you manage your business. You can schedule meetings, make voice and video calls with clients, issue invoices, pay taxes and organize billings directly from the Workee platform. You should try it now for free.
Consultancy jobs you may consider
Choosing a consulting specialty should be based on your experience or a field you are already active in. However, here are some popular consultancy jobs you may consider.
Technology consultants: Technological consultants are professionals who assist businesses improve their operations and finding new methods to use technology.
Business consultants: They are professionals who give recommendations on improving a company's efficiency and how to achieve business goals.
Marketing consultants: Marketing consultants assist businesses in developing and implementing strategies to raise brand awareness and generate leads.
Accounting consultants: They are professionals that evaluate a company's finances and guide employees in making informed financial choices.
Human resource consultants: assist a company in identifying relevant skills and talents. They also train employees and ensure a good work culture.
Choosing a career path In consultancy is not a walk in the park; it requires good planning and in-depth knowledge of a chosen consultancy field. If you are unsure which steps to take, read this guide again to understand how to become an independent consultant.
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